Rolling Stone Magazine Slapped With $25 Million Defamation Lawsuit

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It was a gripping, gutsy story about the gang rape of a defenseless and drugged freshman at the University of Virginia.  The only problem is that it was totally false.

Now, Rolling Stone Magazine is facing another lawsuit related to that article, which was formally retracted after evidence clearly outed the story as fabricated.   University of Virginia fraternity Phi Kappa Psi has now filed for $25 million in defamation and other damages related to the story.  “The reputation that Phi Kappa Psi and its alumni spend decades building was destroyed overnight,” the suit reads.

“The formerly respected fraternity is now known colloquially in the University of Virginia community as ‘the rape frat.'”

In a nutshell, the Rolling Stone story alleged that a drunken freshman named ‘Jackie’ was led to a dark bedroom by Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members, slammed into a glass table that shattered, then gang-raped by seven individuals in the frat.  That well-woven tale was published in November of 2014, and led to protests, attacks, and harassment from enraged students and community members.

Charlottesville police found zero evidence to corroborate the attack, however, and serious questions soon surfaced about the report.  The Columbia School of Journalism published a scathing attack on the report, though Rolling Stone and the article author Sabrina Erdely doubled-down and stood by the report.

The $25 million suit complements individual lawsuits from UVA faculty and various fraternity members, with claimed damages well over $30 million.

11 Responses

  1. Rick Shaw

    Zzzz. Anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time. Whether the lawsuit is warranted or not is another question.

    • lroosemusic

      What a moronic thing to say.

      It’s a flat fact that the lawsuit is warranted.

  2. You're an Idiot, Rick Shaw

    “Whether the lawsuit is warranted or not is another question”???

    You’re a moron.

    The entire article has been proven to be totally false. Rolling Stone admitted it and retracted the story, entirely, after the fact. The story was a fabrication by the author and her “source,” that Rolling Stone admitted they NEVER fact-checked.

    • Rick Shaw

      Thanks for being adult about this and not name-calling. Much appreciated. When you understand how the law works and what constitutes a legitimate lawsuit, come back to this discussion. It’s obvious you have emotion, but not real clue about what you type.

    • Actual Attorney

      I’m an actual attorney, and I do a fair amount of practice in the area of defamation.

      Actually, “You’re a Moron” is right, here. This is a pretty good case.

      Rolling Stone has already been sued by both the Dean of UVA and several of the individual fraternity members. I am not aware that Rolling Stone has even moved for Dismissal or Summary Judgment in either of those cases. The fraternity’s case is also a strong one, given that the Rolling Stone article explicitly named the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and the fraternity suffered actual, provable harm as a result.

      It’s pretty clear that Rick Shaw is not an attorney and understands very little about the viability of a defamation suit based on these facts.

      • Paul Resnikoff

        This is a very serious case here, I think Rolling Stone could be in a lot of trouble on this one. The article clearly named the fraternity with false accusations, with clear repercussions for the frat, the school, and it looks like specific individuals. Even UVA has a possible claim: universities are businesses that ride on their reputations; I read that applications suddenly dropped after this.

        This is a lot of money, and they might get it. I think this might even end Rolling Stone the magazine, or at least plunge it into bankruptcy. Let’s see.

      • Rick Shaw

        If you are an attorney, you lack professionalism. That’s immediately evident. With that kind of character, good luck to you waiting tables. Time will prove me correct. You wait.

      • Actual Attorney

        I have no idea what aspect of my brief post you think indicates a lack professionalism, but I can assure you that I have never waited tables and never will.

        Time has already proven you incorrect, on that.

        But let’s not make this about speculations about me. Let’s keep it to what has been discussed. I’d really like to know:

        What element of the case brought by Phi Kappa Psi do you think is, or might be, unwarranted? How is it that the law works and what constitutes a legitimate lawsuit?

  3. derby

    Rolling Stone should be sued for simply sucking so bad. Many (many) years I was a proud subscriber. Today it is a big joke – with a worse left-leaning focus than ever before.

    • Rick Shaw

      Now that I agree with. There are more pages of advertising than editorial.

  4. its me

    Cant even write fiction anymore, whats next, we’re gonna sue movie producers for inventing scripts… ahh lets sue JK Rowling … Harry Potter is fiction… get a life